For the past five years or so, Brooklyn-based rich kids hipsters and indie rockers are two sides of the same coin, or at least that’s the public perception or cultural shorthand. The king of the hipsters ought to be Sean Lennon. Yes, he’s the son of the biggest rock star of all time, but he’s also the son of one of the most bewildering conceptual artists of all time. More hipster cred: He’s been living in cool parts of New York for the whole of his 36 years, except for those periods when he was overseas attending boarding school. Like I said, king of the hipsters. Except that Lennon seems to be a very genuine, thoughtful, creative guy who wants to make good art and not trade on his father’s name. Hell, his music career’s big push was when he joined Cibo Matto. His label: Grand Royal, the one quietly run by the Beastie Boys.
Staring with 1998’s Into the Sun, Lennon has released two full-length albums and one EP of really pretty, experimental, atmospheric pop. This would piss him off, but Lennon’s stuff is equal parts John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Lennon’s Friendly Fire is a 2006 song cycle about how his best friend cheated on him with his girlfriend (fellow rock star progeny Bijou Phillips) and then died, made it to #152. But this is album was so extremely contemporary, so tuned in with what was going on in indie rock at the time. Lennon wasn’t pandering—indie rock just caught up with what he’d been doing for a decade.
Friendly Fire got a decent media push, with appearances on Late Night With Conan O’Brien and The Late Show With David Letterman, among other things. His performance song, more often than not, Friendly Fire‘s haunting first single and lead-off track “Dead Meat.” And yet the single did nothing chart-wise; the album peaked at #152.
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Julian Lennon was able to ride his name (and the fact that he sounded just like his father) into a brief pop career in the 1980s. But Sean Lennon couldn’t. (Or didn’t. Or wouldn’t.) This indicates that today’s young folks are arguably the first generation to be young enough to have a disconnect with the Beatles, to not automatically give something attention because of that particular pedigree.